Women's News from the Web

Syndicate content The Guardian
Latest Women news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
Updated: 6 hours 28 min ago

The one thing that has helped me this year: radical self-acceptance | Bidisha

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 03:18

During lockdown I embraced my spinsterhood and turned my back for ever on the pressure to pursue self-improvement and adventure. It has been a genuine relief

During lockdown, opportunities to make new friends have been limited. However, I did encounter one special person who caused me to rethink the way I see everything. Yes: I finally met myself.

2020 has been a wonderful training in mindful self-acceptance, the realistic surrender of hope and total subjugation to one’s circumstances. I celebrated turning 42 in late July by doing nothing, and with no psychological kickback. Three cups of tea, lunch and dinner, 12 hours of internet surfing that left no impression, a workout and bed. Same as every day since mid-March.

Continue reading...

Natasha Stott Despoja urges Coalition to apply 'gender lens' to pandemic recovery

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 21:30

Our Watch chair and former Australian Democrats leader says federal budget must strengthen women’s economic security, which will help reduce the ‘shadow pandemic’ of violence against women

The Morrison government must apply a “gender lens” when it draws up the next federal budget because the pandemic has disproportionately harmed women, Natasha Stott Despoja has said.

Australia’s candidate to the United Nations committee on the elimination of discrimination against women called on the government to look beyond “shovel-ready” stimulus projects and to support female-dominated, low-paid sectors at the frontline of the pandemic response in the budget in October.

Continue reading...

Millennials are exploring motherhood – in a new generation of books | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Sun, 08/16/2020 - 02:00

Subtle, intelligent novels by women including Avni Doshi and Sophie Mackintosh look at giving birth in an unstable world

My mother says that, with feminism, each generation has to reinvent the wheel. I see this as her generous way of saying that, essentially, there are no new struggles, just as they say that there are really only seven kinds of plot in fiction. Finding your feminism can make you temporarily evangelical; it certainly did me, in the aftermath of an assault. The world burned with injustice that I wanted to correct, and though my mother knew these injustices well, just as many women had before her, she gave me the space to draw my own conclusions, to find my own model of social justice. She passed on the baton, but then she let me run with it.

The fourth wave of feminism has been eventful, and as a political ideology it has become mainstream like never before. As would be expected in a world governed by corporate interests, its commodification has caused many of us to feel conflicted. This latest incarnation of feminism, led by young women who use technology to mobilise around the issue of female equality, began when I was a student and I am now in my early 30s. It maybe came too late for many of my peers, who had babies as teenagers or in their very early 20s; perhaps because of the class demographic that tends to have the education and resources to invest its time in doing feminism, this generation is only now really beginning to concern itself with the prospect of motherhood.

Continue reading...

'We’re living like it’s not happening': Michelle Obama opens up about menopause

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 14:16

The former first lady used her podcast to also draw attention to other issues affecting women such as weight, ageing and image

Michelle Obama made a point of breaking taboos about women’s health in the latest episode of her new podcast, talking about going through menopause in the workplace, weight, ageing and image.

In a conversation with Sharon Malone, a longtime friend and Washington DC-based obstetrician and gynecologist, the former first lady shared a story about having a hot flash while on Marine One, the presidential helicopter, before an event with then-president Barack Obama.

Continue reading...

Elif Shafak: ‘We need to tell different stories, to humanise the other’

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 22:00

History has shown that hate doesn’t start with concentration camps or civil war. It always starts with words

• Time to reset: more brilliant ideas to remake the world

The year 2020 hasn’t solely been defined by the pandemic, rising unemployment, deepening economic inequalities and a critical time for the climate emergency. There has also been an alarming increase in hate crimes across the world.

In Poland, LGBTQ communities have become enemy number one. In Hungary, neo-Nazi crowds organise demonstrations to expel the Roma communities. More than half of the hate crimes in New York last year targeted Jewish citizens. In Germany, there has been a dangerous increase in attacks against minorities and refugees. In the UK, Home Office figures indicate a surge in hate crimes, including those against sexual minorities and transgender citizens. In Turkey, Brazil and India, a dangerous form of dogmatism continues to brew. All these seemingly disparate events have one fundamental thing in common: a systematic hatred of and bias against people who are regarded as different; the dehumanisation of the “other”.

Continue reading...

‘George Eliot’ joins 24 female authors making debuts under their real names

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 06:19

The Reclaim Her Name project, marking 25 years of the Women’s prize for fiction, will introduce titles including Middlemarch by Mary Ann Evans

Middlemarch is to be published for the first time in almost 150 years under George Eliot’s real name, Mary Ann Evans, alongside 24 other historic works by women whose writing has only ever previously been in print under their male pseudonyms.

Evans adopted the pen name of George Eliot in the mid-19th century, in order to ensure her works were taken seriously. Middlemarch, originally published in eight parts in 1871-72, has never been released under her real name. Evans said she was “resolute in preserving my incognito, having observed that a nom de plume secures all the advantages without the disagreeables of reputation”, while her partner George Lewes said “the object of anonymity was to get the book judged on its own merits, and not prejudged as the work of a woman, or of a particular woman”.

Continue reading...

Intimate letters reveal Simone de Beauvoir’s role as an agony aunt

Sat, 08/08/2020 - 22:10

Inspired by the author’s unconventional love life, thousands of men and women wrote to ask for her advice on sex and sexuality, hidden correspondence reveals

She was the feminist icon made famous by her 1949 seminal treatise, The Second Sex, and her open relationship with fellow writer Jean-Paul Sartre, with whom she swapped sexual partners. Now a vast trove of 20,000 letters reveals that Simone de Beauvoir sparked an extraordinary outpouring of emotion from readers in Britain and across the globe.

Far from ordinary fan mail, these are letters filled with an exceptional author-reader intimacy. Both men and women sought her advice on everything from marriage to mistresses, sexual confusion to sex, abortions to affairs.

Continue reading...

UK’s women’s refuges turn away victims who speak no English

Sat, 08/08/2020 - 21:50

BAME sufferers of domestic abuse refused sanctuary despite available places at many sites

Women’s charities have raised concerns that victims of domestic violence are being refused places at refuges, even when there is capacity, because they do not speak English.

Those turned away include a mother with a 14-month-old baby who was fleeing violence after being held as a slave by her ex-husband.

Continue reading...

'Polarised' debate on gender recognition is harming UK, says equalities chief

Sat, 08/08/2020 - 09:30

David Isaac urges women’s groups and transgender campaigners to listen to each other and focus on consensus

The departing chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said the polarising debate around transgender rights will be damaging to the country if it continues.

In his final interview, David Isaac, who left his position on Saturday after more than four years in post, urged supporters and opponents of gender self-identification to recognise that they had much in common.

Continue reading...

Indian food delivery company Zomato offers 'period leave' to women

Sat, 08/08/2020 - 08:21

Employer aims to remove stigma in a nation where menstruation is still taboo to some

Indian food delivery company Zomato has said it will give female employees up to 10 days of “period leave” a year, as part of an effort to combat what it said was stigma around the issue.

Zomato is the most high-profile organisation to institute the policy in India, a country where menstruation is still taboo to some.

Continue reading...

Female doctors in menopause retiring early due to sexism, says study

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 13:01

Experienced women leaving medicine early because of symptoms and lack of support

Female doctors going through the menopause are reducing their hours, moving to lower-paid roles or retiring early from medicine due to sexism and ageism in surgeries and hospitals, research has found.

The British Medical Association (BMA) found a strong pattern of highly experienced women leaving GP partnerships, ending their positions as clinical leaders and directors and leaving medicine early, because they were struggling to cope with menopause symptoms with no support from management or peers.

Continue reading...

‘Disgusting’ study rating attractiveness of women with endometriosis retracted by medical journal

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 21:34

Fertility and Sterility took seven years to take down Italian study, which was criticised by doctors for ethical concerns and dubious justifications

A widely criticised peer-reviewed study that measured the attractiveness of women with endometriosis has been retracted from the medical journal Fertility and Sterility.

The study, Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study, was first published in 2013 and has been defended by the authors and the journal in the intervening years despite heavy criticism from doctors, other researchers and people with endometriosis for its ethical concerns and dubious justifications, with one advocate calling the study “heartbreaking” and “disgusting”.

Continue reading...

Dreary chat and no sexual spark: the couples who fell out of love in lockdown

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 23:00

With coronavirus keeping us at home, many of us have been taking a long, hard look at our most intimate relationships – and deciding to end them

Hannah began to question her relationship when her boyfriend chose not to live with her during lockdown. They had been dating for two and a half years but didn’t share a home. Now, forced to choose between not seeing each other for weeks on end, or being together 24/7, he had opted for separation.

“At first, I felt anxious about being apart,” she recalls. But friends reassured her that it was only natural not to want to start living together in such stressful circumstances. “We are both very young, in our early 20s, so I brushed aside my concerns and we went to stay separately with our families.”

Continue reading...

I’m bisexual – but worry I'm not as attracted to men as I am to women

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 21:00

I’d feel there was something missing in a long-term heterosexual relationship, but am concerned I am not attracted enough to men to have a monogamous gay relationship

I’m a bisexual man in my 30s. I greatly enjoy sex with women, but the thought of it doesn’t turn me on as much as the thought of receiving anal sex from a man. However, when I am physically intimate with a man I find it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain an erection. In some ways, this is fine, but I’m worried that the men I sleep with think I’m not enjoying it, or don’t know whether I am or not. I think the wider problem may be that I don’t find men as attractive as women. I don’t enjoy cuddling with men or kissing like I do with women. As a result, I treat the men I’m with like sex objects. I’m worried that if I end up with a woman, I’ll always have something missing from my sex life, but that I am not attracted to men enough to have a satisfying monogamous relationship with a man.

When people are grappling with such questions, what they are really comparing is not so much the qualitatively different sexual experiences, but rather who they experience themselves to be in the context of their relationships with people of different genders. But you do not have to make a choice – not now and not ever.

Continue reading...

'A small but powerful signal': Mumbai installs female figures on traffic lights

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 17:28

Campaigners in India say the move helps dispel the notion that only men should be out in public

Mumbai has become the first city in India to introduce female figures on its traffic lights, a move welcomed by campaigners as a step towards greater inclusivity.

Authorities are swapping the green and red male stick figures for female figures on more than 100 pedestrian crossings as part of a broader plan to make roads more pedestrian-friendly.

Continue reading...

If we can't define what a woman is, how can we organise politically? | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 06:19

I respect everyone’s pronouns – and I ask others to respect the language that defines my life

‘What is a woman?” This was the question asked of the Lib Dem leadership hopeful Layla Moran late last month, on the radio programme Political Thinking with Nick Robinson. “You talked of giving straight answers to straight questions,” said Robinson. “Here’s a nice one for you, philosophical: what is a woman?”

There was a pause, before an answer that probably wasn’t as direct as Robinson had hoped. “Well,” said Moran, “a woman is a gender, it is a way to self-identify and there are lots of genders. There is male and that is biological. There is female, which is also biological. A woman is a gender identity which is more akin to being a man. Those are the opposites and then there is also non-binary, which is people who don’t identify with either.”

This seemed confusing to me. So being a man is akin to being a woman? How does that work? I asked the same question on Twitter – what is a woman? – and Naomi Wolf, no less, the author of The Beauty Myth and Vagina: A New Biography, answered that a woman is anyone who wants to be one. It is a personal choice. “Many men and trans people have thanked me for The Beauty Myth,” she wrote. “I didn’t write it only for readers born with uteri.”

The confusion continued on Twitter with a row over a tweet from Piers Morgan, in response to a CNN tweet reading: “Individuals with a cervix are now recommended to start cervical cancers screening at 25.” Morgan replied: “Do you mean women?”, and when Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, liked Morgan’s tweet, she was accused of being a transphobe. Duffield then tweeted: “I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix...?!” Progressives who presumably want to win back those “red wall” seats called for her sacking.

I am dismayed at the persecution of trans people – and also at the bile directed towards women who are questioning a narrative in which our experience, needs and reality are too often overlooked. Why can’t we use the word “womxn”, someone asked on Twitter. It’s obvious, isn’t it? To erase the word “woman” means we cannot speak of our biology and our experience. Leftwing feminists, me included, see women as a sex class. American “choice feminism” was a disaster; feminism repackaged as capitalist attainment. The backlash is now here, and in some cases it comes in the form of an ideology that overrides the demands of women.

We don’t talk so much now about the terrible violence meted out to women – the appallingly low rate of rape convictions and the huge and growing incidence of domestic violence – because that would be to see women as still oppressed. And there is a popular narrative now that often says we’re not. For some people, victimhood has become the preserve of a tiny percentage of the population – trans and other seriously marginalised communities – who do indeed have a very hard time. But while their difficulties are recognised, women’s difficulties are considered merely the bleatings of privileged females.

If we cannot define what a woman is or name that experience, we cannot organise politically. As the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin once wrote: “Men have the power of naming, a great and sublime power. This power of naming enables men to define experience, to articulate boundaries and values, to designate to each thing its realm and qualities, to determine what can and cannot be expressed to control perception itself.”

For me, the debate around trans issues is not and never has been about toilets or changing rooms. It is about the right of women to define themselves in a system that is afraid we might do just that.

I will happily respect anyone’s pronouns and I ask other people, too, to respect the language that defines my life in a female meat suit. Men are never spoken of as prostate owners, or vehicles for their penises or testicles. I have never yet read a definition of “cis” that I identify with, even though, as a female whose gender expression matches her sex, this is apparently what I am. The fact is, when it comes to my appearance, I started wearing drag – makeup, heels, big hair – as soon as I knew that, in order to use my mind, I would have to appear on the outside entirely different to how I felt on the inside. Gender nonconformity has been an essential part of my life, as it is for so many people, whether this is apparent or not. I always liked the way the Stonewall activist Marsha P Johnson chose to call herself a “street transvestite action revolutionary”. She thought of herself not as a woman but as “a queen”.

All of us are a combination of biology and history, our bodies situated in a time and a place. I neither want to fetishise and essentialise biology nor deny it. It is different for each of us.

It is often argued on Twitter that the struggle for trans rights is the same as the struggle for gay rights. But, crucially, coming out as gay demands nothing from others but equality. There is now a demand from some activists – many of them not trans themselves; many of them men – that the class of women must be renamed.

I reject this. Am I more than a collection of body parts? Am I allowed to talk of my own life? Am I a woman simply out of choice?

What, then, is a woman? These days, I often find it is simply someone who does not agree to let misogynist men speak for us.

• Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist

Continue reading...

The Guardian view on lockdown creativity: a freedom for female musicians? | Editorial

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 07:25

For some the domestic space has offered artistic liberation at odds with the home’s reputation as a place of constraint for women

The coronavirus pandemic has reconfigured the home as a site of creativity, one glimpsed through webcams and headphones. The format will surely vanish when arts venues reopen. But for some female musicians in 2020, before and during lockdown, the domestic space has offered artistic liberation at odds with the home’s reputation as a place of constraint for women.

Some have long understood the benefits of recording in isolation, away from an industry that prizes looks over sounds. Lockdown’s most highly rated album is perhaps US songwriter Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters. As a 90s teen prodigy, she was dogged by media intrusion, which by her own admission took a lasting toll. But Apple has centred herself by recording in the California home she has seldom left in 20 years. From there, she addressed her past on the album with biting humour and deep feeling.

Continue reading...

Women's prize for playwriting longlist is 'politically charged', say producers

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 03:05

The £12,000 prize is a galvanising moment for industry that must ‘rejuvenate rather than regress’ after the Covid-19 pandemic

The longlisted writers for a new prize for female playwrights have created “satisfyingly puzzling” characters and “ambitious, politically charged” plays, say the award’s producers.

The Women’s prize for playwriting, open to writers in the UK and Ireland who identify as female, was launched last year. Submissions closed in early March and the prize has grown in significance in the wake of coronavirus, which led venues to close that month and has since devastated the theatre industry. Producer Ellie Keel, whose company launched the prize with Paines Plough (run by Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner), warned that fewer creative risks will be taken by the industry after the pandemic. “It is a historically well-trodden path that work by women can be seen as risky,” said Keel, who wants to “force the theatre industry to rejuvenate rather than regress”.

Continue reading...

Is the #ChallengeAccepted trend simply a Miss Instagram pageant or something more? | Nadine von Cohen

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 13:16

The glamorous photos seem to be the latest in performative western pseudo-feminism. But the tide is turning

In 2020, as a global pandemic enters its eighth deadly month, Black Lives Matter protests continue across the world and the US presidential campaign nobody wants ramps up, cutting through the noise of social media with a campaign is near impossible.

So it was with incredulity that this Tuesday past I watched as a rapidly increasing number of women on my Instagram feed posted beautiful photos of themselves. Of course, hot selfies are the bricks upon which the house of Instagram is built, so this alone wouldn’t have piqued my interest.

Continue reading...

Democrats introduce bill to repeal anti-abortion rule for US overseas aid

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 04:00

Critics of the Helms amendment, which currently prevents the use of aid to fund abortion services abroad, say it is ‘deeply rooted in racism’

The first bill to repeal a US law preventing aid from funding abortion services overseas was introduced to congress on Wednesday.

Democratic congressswoman Jan Schakowsky said the Helms amendment, a policy introduced in 1973, was “deeply rooted in racism” and must be replaced to allow US money to be used to support safe abortion services worldwide.

Continue reading...